Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gone

You've left and gone away now. It's not that our lives crossed paths often, in fact we hadn't seen one another in months when we last spoke. You were not necessarily here and yet I cannot help but feel that you're gone forever. I barely knew you. Our lives touched only briefly before we went our seperate ways to fight our demons alone but brief as our interaction may have been, I can tell you that not a single day has passed since I heard the news that the thought of you has not crossed my mind at the mention of word, the sight of a place, or the thought of a moment. I have never thought of myself as someone who becomes attached to other people, in fact I have made great efforts to put distance between myself and the rest of the world so that when people leave or relationships end as they always seem to do, I can move on without feeling the grief and pain of the loss. I barely knew you and though we became close for a moment in time, we had grown nearly as far apart as two people could before the end, and still I feel the pain of your death deep inside of me. I can feel the void within that I had no idea your smile had once filled. I'd like to believe that you and I learned quite a lot from each other in the time that we shared and even in your passing, you are still teaching me things I may never have learned about myself otherwise. You have shown me that depsite my best efforts to remain distant from those around me, I am deeply affected by the people that I call my friends and these people help to make my life full and welcoming. You have shown me that there is no weakness in enjoying the presence of the people that you care about, only the potential for regret in not taking the opportunity to spend time with them while you have the chance. We spoke only three days before your passing and how could we have known that it would be the last time? I know that realistically there is nothing that I could have said or done to change your destiny but I am coming to find there is nothing I can say or do now to shake this notion from my mind. I would have thought of something more important to say had I known that I'd never get the chance to say it again. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your struggles with me and allowing me to share mine with you. Thank you for sore thumbs from sending so many text messages on my crappy phone. Thank you for thrift shopping in Berkeley and conversations about the psych ward at full volume on the crowded BART train. Thank you for showing me that I'm not the only one who is in love with Emo Punk bands from my highschool days. And thank you, for being the friend that I so desperately needed after my world had been turned upside-down. I hope you have finally found the peace that you so deserve.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Priorities

My appetite is immense. I'm not hungry, there's no way that I can be, not physically hungry anyway. I just ate a sizeable breakfast and yet I'm still starving for something that I cannot define. There's a void inside and food seems to be the easiest way to try to fill it. What's missing? What is it that I'm searching for? I'm always asking myself but I've not yet managed the courage to break out of my little box and go searching for what it is that might make me feel a little more whole. The world outside of my box is a scary place, after all. Or am I really just hungry? Have I been casually restricting here and there recently and is my body actually just looking for something extra to put into the gas tank. I wish I knew, I wish I could tell. I wish that I had some sense of hunger and fullness that I could actually rely on. I wish that I really felt that way. I wish that what I just said wasn't a lie and that I didn't know that I've been riding a little more while eating a little less now and then for weeks and weeks. I wish that I could really believe that I couldn't tell what is really going on, but I'm too smart and too aware for my own good. I know exactly what's going on because I've been here before. In fact, I don't really feel as though I've ever left this place for any length of time. Not this place physically, I've been here, there, and back again physically. Emotionally though, I don't feel like the internal struggle is any different than it was a year ago necessarily. I find myself behaving differently, with some ability to take care of myself that I simply didn't have at this time last year, but inside I feel just as knotted up and backwards as ever. It's not getting easier and I guess I had hoped that at some point each and every day wouldn't be every bit as difficult as the last. I had hoped that the light at the end of the tunnel would be visible by now, but instead I still find myself stumbling around in the darkness. Perhpaps I'm being too hard on myself. Things are different than they were a year ago. They are. Some things are still the same and it's these things that worry me and make me feel as though I'm not trying hard enough, that I'm a failure at taking care of myself and that I am a fraud when it comes to being a decent and honest human being. Let's be real though, things have changed and I have actually come a long way though I still have a great distance left to go. At this time last year, I survived on a diet of cereal, diet pepsi, powerbars, and on the bad days, ice cream. And with that diet of a champion, I compulsively rode my bike about 30 hours every week in an effort to maintain an unrealistic and unhealthy weight. Every thought revolved around food and how I was going to eat less of it or burn off the meager amounts that I had allowed myself to consume. Too little was always too much when it came to food and too much could never be enough when it came to riding. I was completely trapped in a vicious cycle of restricting, exercising, binging, and purging. It wasn't much of a life. Cold and isolated from my friends and family, my only joy came in pushing myself ever further down a path of self-destruction. It was a life defined by pain and suffering, the more that I suffered, the stronger I was and the better I felt about myself and my place in the world. It wasn't an enjoable existence, but it was wonderfully simple. Stay thin. That was it, that was all. There was only one goal, one objective, one career choice, one educational path, one desire, and one lifestyle: stay thin. Stay thin and you will be happy. Take away all of the other hopes and dreams that you ever had, take away your goals and aspirations, your desires to be successful or well rounded, take away anything and everything that might require you to have more than the bare minimum amount of energy or that might require you to break away from your day to day routine and replace all of it with one thing, a need to be thin. Do this and the stress you feel about work, or school, or relationships will melt away because all of these things will become completely unimportant. So what if you make barely enough money to pay the rent, you're not into all that material bullshit anyway, you're above all of that, all you need is to be thin. So what if you'll never be able to focus long enough to sit through a college class, you're skinnier than all of your class mates anyway and what could possibly be more important than that? And who cares if you're too hopelessly dedicated to your bike and to losing weight to be involved in a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with another individual, you know that true happiness lies in being skinny and your disorder gives you things that you could never get from another person. Sleep, ride, and eat just enough to keep yourself upright. Screw everything else. Yes, life was blissfully simple then. Life was also excrutiatingling unfulfilling. I was aware of it then, even functioning in the state that I was, I knew that I was completely empty inside and that my life had little meaning or purpose. Although I dedicated myself completely to my task, I knew that my task meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Things have changed, and I have come a long way. Life is more complicated now than ever before, but it is only complicated due to the fact that I have a desire to be more than just what I am and the potential energy to actually change my circumstance in this world for the first time in my life. Life is only more complex now because I'm allowing myself to experience it rather than shutting it out completely and dedicating myself to destroying myself instead. I have something more driving me to do the things that I do these days than just a desire to be the skinniest one in the room. Maybe this is more than enough to be proud of at this point in the process, but having dedicated so much time to keeping myself stuck in the same comfortable little box, I feel as though I'm years behind my peers in the race of life and just like everything else, life is a competition. I hate losing. I hate losing and I feel like I'm so far off the back at this point that I don't stand a chance of making up all the ground that I've lost. I'm anxious to get on with it and frustrated that I haven't just let all of these demons go. I'm frustrated that although I am not completely driven by a desire to be thin, it's still a top priority in my life at this point and I don't feel myself moving this priority down on my list of things to do. It's still my fall back, the thing that seems most natural during times when I'm not completely occupied with some other task. It's creeping back in and climbing back up the ladder of importance in my life. Realistically, I know things have changed. Things are not going too terrribley well nor are they going fantastically poorly. Maybe that's the very reason that I feel so damned agitated all the time. I'm neither winniing nor losing this race right now, I'm somewhere midpack, completely unspectacular in any way, just hoping to cross the finish line with the rest of the group. I hate it. I hate feeling like I have nothing to set me apart from the rest of the world right now. I feel like I am absolutely nothng special and in fact more often than not, I feel like I'm far less than even average. I feel like a fraud. I don't understand it, I never have. People seem to believe that there is a certain something about me that makes me worth while or at least worth knowing, but it's simply not true. I have no special talents, I'm not particularly bright, I'm easily overwhelmed, not especially disciplined, and at the end of the day, I'm selfish and lazy. I can't understand why it is that anyone would bother keeping me around or giving me any sort of credit. I feel as though I'm headed no where and I can't figure out how I stand any chance of changing that direction being so incapable of handling the pressures that go along with growing up. I don't know, maybe I just can't figure it all out right now. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself and not allowing myself to acknowledge just how far I've come in these last few months. Sure, I'm struggling with a few things right now and I still believe that I could be further along in this process and in life than I currently find myself, but that's the type of thinking that wins races and keeps you out of the pack, and I doubt if I'll ever completely stray from such high standards for myself. Maybe I need to look at just what it is that I'm capable of from a different angle. I'd like to believe that each and every one of us is capable of nearly anything and perhaps I only feel that way because I watched myself go from a couch potato youth to a professional athlete competing with individuals whom I used to read about in magazines. Whatever the resoning though, I most certainly believe that nearly anything is possible if you dedicate yourself to a task. So why then, am I having so much difficulty in dedicating myself to the task that is before me? Why is it so profoundly difficult for me to put the same amount of effort into caring for myself and for my future that I put into riding my bike? Part of me knows that it's because I am still putting so much effort into the bike, even now when I have decided to "move on" with my life and grow up. It's proving more difficult than I could have possibly imagined to let go of it all and I can't decide what and where my true motivations are. There are moments when I know with certainty that I must leave the cycling world behind completely if I stand any chance of ever really getting better and then there are moments like this one when I feel like I belong in this world and that I can have a happy and fulfilling career in an industry to which I have devoted years of my life. I find myself unsatisfied with where my life is at this moment, but unwilling to commit to taking the first steps into a particular direction of any sort. I don't really believe that anyone has much of an idea of where they are going to wind up in life. I think that many people find themselves in jobs that they're not fond of which end up becoming careers that they don't like which they end up doing for the rest of their lives because they've made committments to houses and families and cars and everything else along the way. I don't want to make the wrong choice. I don't want to wake up one day thirty years from now and wonder what would have happened had I made use of the time that I had invested in riding bikes but I don't want to wake up one day and wonder the same thing about a thousand other things that I could decide to do right here and right now. The world is a much larger place than it was a year ago and if I can give myself no credit for my progress I've made, then at the very least recognize that my eyes have been truly opened for the first time. The struggle now is deciding whether to keep them open and face the vastness of this place, or close them tightly and shut out the wonders of the world once again.